Saturday, June 12, 2010

UFC 115: Kyle and I pick 'em again

This is the little card that can't, the UFC event that lacks any fight of serious importance for the sport of MMA. That said, there are actually some quite good match-ups on it, so I plan to get the PPV and watch it after The A-Team and/or the next day.

We'll begin, as usual, with the undercard. Kyle filed his picks first, so he gets to appear first below.

Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennox

Kyle: I pick Mike Pyle. He was the best actor in Universal Soldier: Regeneration, and I figure that anybody who can out-act both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren should be able to take Jesse Lennox.

Mark: I think Joe Silva, the UFC matchmaker, likes to punish former IFL fighters whenever they aren't TUF winners, so he's feeding Lennox to Pyle. Pyle should enjoy the treat en route to a victory.

Ricardo Funch vs. Claude Patrick

Kyle: Funch probably doesn't have the takedown defense to keep the fight standing, and Patrick definitely has the submission skills to finish the fight on the ground. Expect Claude Patrick to win his Octagon debut.

Mark: After Funch loses this fight, expect to hear a lot more about Patrick. Patrick FTW.

James Wilks vs. Peter Sobotta

Kyle: This is another striker-versus-grappler match. Wilks will want to take the fight to the ground and score a submission. Sobotta wants to keep the fight on the feet. Again, I'm betting that the grappler can turn it into a jiu jitsu match. Wilks by submission.

Mark: The UFC must not have been able to call up enough Canadian fighters to keep the Vancouver crowd happy, so maybe they figure that Wilks, a Brit now living in the U.S., will count as Canadian enough. What he should deliver is a victory thanks to his superior wrestling skills.

David Loiseau vs. Mario Miranda

Kyle: Once upon a time, David Loiseau was a UFC title contender, but he's gone 5-5 in his last ten fights. His last UFC fight was a decision loss to Ed Herman a year ago, and it's safe to say that he wouldn't be fighting at UFC 115 if the event weren't in Canada. Mario Miranda is a talented up-and-comer who's won half his fights by TKO. The smart money says that Mario Miranda has better technical striking and should out-point Loiseau on the feet. I don't think he's been where Loiseau has been, though, and he hasn't faced competition as stiff. I'm picking the underdog. Loiseau for the win.

Mark: My heart says Loiseau, because I'd love to see him make one more run, but he's on the way down, and Miranda's heading the other direction. Miranda is unlikely to finish Loiseau, but he will win.

Mac Danzig vs. Matt Wiman

Kyle: I expect this to go like most Mac Danzig fights: Danzig will always be in the fight. He won't break. He won't quit. He won't get knocked out. But for all his technical skill, he'll be a little too slow with his strikes. When defending takedowns, he won't sprawl hard enough to stay off his back. And his jiu jitsu will be enough for him to keep from taking serious damage, but not enough to score a submission or escape to his feet. I can only assume Danzig's problems stem from his refusal to eat meat. Expect Wiman to look like a predator, and Danzig to look like prey.

Mark: Poor Mac Danzig. He's good enough to stay in every fight but not good enough to win against any serious fighter in his class. Wiman will take him down at will win on points.

Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham

Kyle: In Japan, even Dunham might have a chance, but when a fight hits the ground American judges tend to award points to the guy who's on top. That'll be Tyson Griffin, who should have little trouble putting Even Dunham on his back, but is likely to find the fight a stalemate from that point forward. Dunham's jiu jitsu is good enough to keep Griffin from being able to inflict much damage, but Griffin's submission defense is good enough to keep Dunham from tapping him out. Griffin by decision.

Mark: Fights between teammates always have the potential to be odd simply because of the huge amount of firsthand knowledge the fighters have of each other. Most places I've consulted seem to believe Dunham will grind out the victory over Griffin, but I think Griffin's wrestling will carry the day. I concur with Kyle: Griffin by decision.

And now, we move to the main card.

Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald

Kyle: Condit looked formidable in the kiddie-pool welterweight division of the WEC, but he's found life more challenging in the deep water of the UFC. Condit's struggled with powerful wrestler/strikers in his last couple of fights. Condit's lack of takedown defense will serve him poorly against a grappling machine like Rory MacDonald. MacDonald by superior wrestling.

Mark: Carlos Condit is another of those fighters who illustrate just how much tougher the competition is in the UFC than it was at the WEC for fighters in the weight classes that both organizations had. Further, Condit just doesn't fare well against strong wrestlers, which MacDonald is. I doubt MacDonald will finish Condit, but MacDonald will win.

Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel

Kyle: If they fought in K-1, Yvel would probably take it, but his skills are better suited to kickboxing than to MMA. Rothwell will push Yvel up into the cage and batter him in the clinch. Unless he can escape to kicking range, it'll be a short fight for Yvel. Rothwell by mauling.

Mark: By Wednesday, Yvel won't have a UFC contract after he loses to Rothwell, who will probably win via TKO.

Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann

Kyle: I like this fight. In a card that is otherwise extraordinarily weak, Paulo Thiago is the only generally-acknowleged top-5 fighter. From the quality of the competitors, this fight ought to be at the top of the card instead of two aging ex-champs coming off losses. Kampmann's a formidable opponent who's got no quit in him, but I expect Thiago to just be too much for him to handle. Paulo Thiago for the win.

Mark: In what should be one of the best fights of the night, Kampmann will put up a great fight but ultimately lose to Thiago.

Mirko Filipovic vs. Pat Barry

Kyle: It's been a long, long time since Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic showed the unstoppable fire that won him the 2006 Pride Grand Prix. Pat Barry was still two years away from his first professional fight at the time. Since then Barry's racked up five KO or TKO wins while CroCop has lost three fights to superior strikers. (Barry also lost one fight by submission, while CroCop won four against noticeably weaker opponents.) Barry's never been knocked out, and Filipovic is no longer the man to make that happen. Pat Barry by KO.

Mark: I used to love watching Cro Cop fight, but the sport moved on, the others in his weight class kept improving, and he stayed where he was. Pat Barry won't win any titles, but he will win this fight.

Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin

Kyle: Rich Franklin might be a legitimate contender at 205 pounds, but at this rate we'll never know because the UFC keeps giving him catchweight fights against guys headed down to 185 and, now, a retirement-party bout against a punch-drunk Chuck Liddell. Liddell lost his last two fights by knockout. Admittedly he still has heavy hands, and Franklin has a questionable chin. But Franklin's a smart fighter who's plenty willing to duck into the pocket, score a point, and duck out again. His game plan here is going to be to avoid the heavy right and tag Liddell just enough to make it clear that he's winning. Liddell's plodding style should make that easy for him. Franklin by decision.

Mark: As long as Franklin executes the obvious game plan--start outside, take quick shots, back away, and win on points--he should win what has the potential to be 15 very sad minutes for the once-mighty Liddell.

Check back tomorrow to see how we fared. As always, don't rely on our predictions for your sports betting!

A stanza that summarizes the teenage me

From Brian Fallon, of The Gaslight Anthem, in the song, "Boxer," from the upcoming (this Tuesday, and yes, I've preordered it and it's on its way to me) CD, American Slang.

Took it all gracefully on the chin,
knowing the beatings had to someday end.
You found the bandages inside the pen
and the stitches on the radio.
Oh, hell, yeah. Still do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Because you need to hear it

and because this song has been in my head off and on ever since the Blue Rodeo concert the other night, here it is, for your enjoyment.

Yeah, I admit it: Sometimes, I like me some sentimental shit.

Of course, other times, I don't, which is why I'm psyched for Saturday night: a great dinner, The A-Team, and then home to watch the DVR'd UFC 115. I should probably work more that evening, but right now the plan is to take it off entirely. What a lazy man I may be!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get Him To the Greek

I know what you're thinking: He really will go see any movie. In this case, that reaction is completely understandable, because the trailer made this one look pretty formulaic and dull.

It wasn't.

All of us who went enjoyed it at least a fair amount, and several of us liked it quite a bit. Two things elevated it beyond others of its ilk: Russell Brand, and an ongoing inventiveness that kept it just a tad off the track that similar comedies have beaten to death.

Whether he was clowning it up, chewing the scenery, or providing the odd serious moment, Russell Brand was mesmerizing. At first a clown, he ultimately became a much more complex, disturbing, and very disturbed character. I'd watch the film again just for him.

Though the basic trajectory of the movie was one you've seen before, it really did follow an odd, winding path along that route. For ten minutes or so at a stretch, it would behave as you expected, and then something endearingly or tragically odd would occur.

My favorite line (which I am quoting from memory and so may have slightly wrong): "When life slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall."

Trust me: It will make sense after you've seen the movie.

Though I didn't expect to say this, I recommend you check it out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The usual unusual at my house

Sometimes I forget that not every house and family run the way we do.

Here, courtesy again of Gina, are two photos from right before they opened the doors at the Blue Rodeo concert the other night.

In this first happy snap, Sarah and I are fighting the earwigs that are attempting to burrow into our brains. Though I realize it may not look that way, we are winning.

Unfortunately, though we were ultimately able to repel the alien invaders, one managed to draw the lower half of Sarah's head partway through a pan-dimensional wormhole into an anime universe, leaving her looking like this for much of the evening. Fanboys were swooning all around.

Sarah recovered in time to write her weekly prose blog entry, this time one that had to be 30 words long and include "hawk." Check out this lovely paean to her brother. Scott is so proud.

Don't forget to play the song Sarah embedded--but not at work, and not around kids. (Really.)

As Sarah and I observed as we were listening to this tune from within The U of Power, the benefits of a Duke education are already becoming apparent.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blue Rodeo

played tonight at the Carrboro Arts Center, so five of us went to see them. Long-time readers will know that Blue Rodeo is one of my favorite bands, so there was no way I was going to miss them. If you don't know them or their music, check out some of the videos I embedded in earlier posts or, better still, pick up one or more of their CDs. Their first CD, Outskirts, is definitely one of my desert island top ten.

The concert was wonderful. Though they were playing to a fairly small crowd--estimates ranged from 75 to a max of 200--everyone in the band put on a great show. They played a strong list of songs that included the three I'd most hoped to hear ("Heart Like Mine," "Till I Am Myself Again," and "Five Days In May"), a great selection from their newest disc, and a nice assortment of other tunes. "Five Days In May" was absolutely astounding, as several solos, notably the pianist's and the violinist's, were so energetic and so full of joy that I was for several minutes transfixed with happiness. Amazing.

A great surprise was the opening act, Cuff the Duke. I'd never heard of them before, but now I own both their CDs. Though their lyrics were overly simplistic, their music and performance were so charming and so catchy that I wanted to hear more.

At the end of the encore, Blue Rodeo brought all of its musicians and Cuff the Duke onto the stage; courtesy of Gina, you can see a picture of them below. They then closed the show with an ending song I've seen them use before: "Lost Together." I knew it was coming, I've heard it live several times, and yet it was still magical, the two bands, the audience, all of us singing and, in that moment, truly lost together in the music.

Blue Rodeo should be huge in America. If they come near you, catch their show, and find out for yourself just how good they are.

Monday, June 7, 2010


After our local food critic awarded four and a half stars (of five) to Buku, we knew we had to eat there. After having no chance to go there for well over a month, on Saturday night we finally made it to this downtown Raleigh hot spot.

We'll be going back.

The restaurant's theme is brilliant in its flexibility: global street food. Chef William D'Auvray offers a menu that draws from many parts of the world. We sampled small plates with traditional dishes from such countries as the Phillipines, Viet Nam, Japan, China, India, and Mexico, and every single one was delicious. As the range of cuisines suggests, D'Auvray is not afraid of spices, so many of the dishes had a delightful kick, but none went too far; you could always taste not just the spice but also the many yummy ingredients.

I'm also happy to report that the desserts here were uniformly good--and I should know, because our happy crowd of diners tried all of them. (Few things are as much fun--and as much sin--as studying a dessert menu and then telling your server that you'll have the lot.) The house-made pineapple sorbet, though a small dish among many, still has me wishing for more.

As I said, this won't be our last trip to Buku. In fact, it's now definitely on our frequent-visit list. Check it out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Four weeks from right now

I will be getting out of the shower after having scrubbed all the gunpowder residue from my skin. No, I won't have committed a crime or gone to war; I'll have helped launch the better part of a ton of fireworks into the sky for our annual Fourth of July celebration.

If you live in this area, or if you plan to be here that Sunday, drop me a line via the form on the site, and we can probably arrange for you to be at the party. For this particular event, the general rule is, the more, the merrier. It's a potluck affair, so everyone brings something to share, and I provide burgers and hot dogs for all. (Usually, that means standing over a hot cooker for about 75 minutes grilling about a hundred of each.) Dave and Jo host the party, Jo does Herculean work prepping and co-hosting, Dave performs similar labors the next day cleaning up, and many other folks work very hard to pull off what is always a great event.

I find fireworks magical at all times, but watching a fireworks show, as great as that is, is nothing to standing underneath them, having set them off, as they streak into the sky and explode all around you. It's an amazing rush.

As you can tell, I'm already looking forward to it.


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